It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no it’s the Comic Book Men!
Pop-Break had the tremendous opportunity of talking to these two stellar individuals about the new upcoming season of Comic Book Men.
In a hilariously fun interview, Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson filled us in on what its like on set, Walt’s disdain for new people, the change in the comic book market from print to digital, and what, after all this time, makes Comic Book Men so special to them.
With the show being on air for so long, have you guys gotten use to being on camera a lot yet?
Bryan: I would hope it shows (laughs), you tell me (laughs).
I mean you guys were so hesitant to do it at first, but are you more comfortable with it now?
B: For me it’s fine, I don’t mind it at all. It’s fun to sit around and shoot the shit.
Walt: Uh, I think for me, the last couple of years, I felt more relaxed, because the crew has remained in tact almost the whole five years. It takes me a long time to warm up to people, and now I feel comfortable in front of the crew and I don’t even notice when they have a camera in front of me, compared to the first couple of years when I noticed it a lot more. Now knowing everyone a lot better, I don’t feel uncomfortable anymore.
B: God, I hope they hear this (laughs), because basically when you boil it down, he’s really saying “It took me five years to finally like these people” (laughs).
W: No, I didn’t say like (laughs) I just meant it takes me longer to feel comfortable in front of a lot of people.
B: He’s the polar opposite of me.
W: Yeah, I need a lot more time to feel comfortable with a lot of people, so it took me a little bit longer than it takes everyone else.
B: So this must be a lot of fun for you?
W: Nah, I hate this… (laughs) This is the worse part of the show (promoting it) I felt like all last night my stomach was in knots. Its weird talking to people and them just waiting on my answers, I don’t like it…
B: So in short, he loves the panel. (laughs).
Is there any collectible that you absolutely love and would never let go, something that has real emotional value?
W: Yeah, I mean most of my collection is just complied of pure trash (laughs). I mean I don’t have any Silver Age P issues, a lot of the stuff that I own in my big collection isn’t really worth a lot in terms of monetary value, but I have a lot of books, like Hellrider, or some old black and white magazine from back in the day that may be worth like 10 or 15 bucks, but I wouldn’t let it go because it just means so much and I enjoyed it so much as a kid that I would never let it go.
B: And that’s something that people don’t understand when the come into the store. That nostalgia has no value at the store, because it just won’t be passed down to another person and they don’t think about that when they are just trying to price the item.
With the market changing, and a lot more places going digital, what do you think shops can do to not only stay open, but also bring people back?
W: That’s tough, I mean I think most people who won’t even be tempted by digital are people in my age bracket who have been collecting for so long that they know digital just doesn’t have the same kind of reading experience. I mean as much as the takeover of digital is inevitable, there’s one thing digital will never be able to replicate is a back issue market. You will never be able to sell a download as, “Well this is a first edition download.” You just won’t be able to do that. It won’t ever be worth as much in terms of that, so if that still drives the hobby, you know value and what an issue is worth, than I don’t think you will ever be able to kill or get rid of comic book shops or tangible issues.
Does that affect the long, out of print stuff? I mean, finding Miracle Man was almost nearly impossible and it was very expensive when you first found a trade of it, but now Marvel released it and got that property back for it. So do you think that kind of stuff will get affected?
W: I mean, it had an affect on Miracle Man back issues obviously, because once they start making it again and put it at a price people can by, of course the back issues will be affected and that’s with anything though. Once something is made again and put at an affordable price, everything becomes affected and that’s how the end of any hobby really starts.
B: That question has been asked a lot, and I’m wondering if anyone really knows the statistics for any of that? I mean, I would think the real problem of getting anyone into comic book stores is because there are so many different avenues of entertainment now and days, rather it be tablet, or video games, something along those lines.
W: Personally, I’m not really against digital. I don’t think it’s going to really affect me, I mean when it starts to really creep in I hope to be on the beach, retired at some point.
Five seasons in and what do you guys think is the most satisfying part of the process?
W: Oddly enough, because I would have never thought this, is when parents come in and they don’t watch the show but their kids do, and they traveled a long way just because the kid is a fan of the show. And when you look, it’s a 7-year-old kid and that to me is one of the most satisfying surprises of it all. I would never have thought kids would gravitate to our show like that, and it’s cool and unexpected.
B: I mean when your job is hanging out with your friends, and making fun of Ming (laughs), it’s not that bad.
W: We don’t even get paid to do it (laughs)
B: Yeah, 10 months out of the year we do it for free (laughs).
Last question, if you had to put yourself into a comic book, which one would it be?
B: I would probably go Archie right away, man.
Yeah, and you have that new Archie comics too!
W: Yeah, yeah, I mean I would be old Archie actually because new Archie is getting a little too on the edge for me. I gotta go back to ’70s Archie.